Over the past several months, there have been a number of articles in the national press, including The New York Times and Newsweek, speculating whether former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley might consider a presidential run in 2020.
While everybody knows that President Donald Trump hasn’t even finished his first term in office yet, some politicos are already jumping to the conclusion that he will have some Republican challengers in 2020.
Everyone from Vice President Mike Pence to Ohio Gov. John Kasich to Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse to Haley have all been mentioned as possible contenders.
Only time will tell, but Haley, now the ambassador to the United Nations, reportedly put her longtime pollster on the payroll and has gotten better acquainted with some of New York’s financiers, according to The New York Times.
With her current role as ambassador to the United Nations, Haley is definitely solidifying her foreign-policy resume and is earning a reputation as a tough ambassador.
Newsweek even pointed out that Haley has had a higher profile than even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, especially earlier in the administration.
But does that mean she is willing to go up against Trump in 2020?
Well, many people won’t soon forget that Haley spoke out against Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign after endorsing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the Republican primary election.
After Rubio dropped out, Haley threw her support behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — Trump’s final rival before he became the Republican party’s nominee.
During last year’s presidential campaign while addressing the nation, Haley made pointed remarks which appeared to openly criticize Trump.
“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” she said. “We must resist that temptation.”
Haley even went as far as to say Trump represents “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.”
And yet, Trump still decided to appoint her as the ambassador to the United Nations.
So, why do some people believe Haley would be a strong candidate for president?
First, Haley has worked very hard to get where she is today.
She was the first minority and female governor of South Carolina and only the second Indian-American to serve as governor of any state.
But more important are some of the difficult issues she faced as governor of South Carolina and the manner in which she handled them.
The nation remembers when 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof walked into a Bible study meeting at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston on June 17, 2015 and viciously murdered nine of its African-American members.
Roof, who proudly posed for several photos of him holding the Confederate flag, told friends that he wanted to start a “race war.”
Instead, Haley demanded the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House, where it had flown since 1962.
“Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds,” Haley said in 2015. “This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state. One-hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come.”
Of course, many people are quick to point out that Trump has taken a different approach when it comes to this country’s debate over whether monuments to the Civil War and its icons should remain standing in public centers following the violence in Charlottesville, Va. last month.
But another recent national tragedy is also making some politicos take an even closer look at Haley and her credentials: Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey has severely devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana over the past week, dumping 27 trillion gallons of rain on the two states and forcing more than 72,000 people to be rescued from their flooded homes. Tragically, at least 50 people have lost their lives in the storm.
Many people have questioned why Houston and the surrounding coastal cities in Texas didn’t have a mandatory evacuation.
Well, Haley has been there and done that.
Back in October of 2016, Hurricane Matthew barreled up the East Coast and Haley’s steadfast warnings earned her serious praise throughout the Palmetto State.
“Observers have hailed Haley’s early decision to evacuate residents along the South Carolina coast and for repeatedly keeping the public updated as the situation developed, usually twice a day,” wrote The Post and Courier in 2016. “The storm is the third time in as many years that Haley has made decisions from the state’s command center in West Columbia during a crisis. She was credited for deftly overseeing ice storms in 2014 and record flooding last year.”
Critics praised Haley as doing a “great job executing the disaster plan and listening to her advisors while sending a clear and consistent message of voicing the dangers of the hurricane.”
Three days before Matthew struck, Haley announced staggered evacuations for coastal counties while calling for the reversal of the eastbound lanes on Interstate 26 to avoid clogging the highway with residents leaving the Charleston area, the newspaper reported.
The governor urged residents to travel at least 100 miles inland to be safe from the storm. Of the estimated 1.1 million people asked to evacuate, about one-third left their homes, the paper reported.
While Hurricane Matthew did not have near the devastating impact on the East Coast that many feared, the South Carolina coast still suffered severe damage from flooding.
Bob McAlister, who served as chief of staff for former S.C. Gov. Carroll Campbell when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, told The Post and Courier that Haley’s early calls for evacuations were extremely wise.
“I dare say, with their pro-action on this and the way she’s handled it, lives have indeed been saved,” he said.
Haley is an impressive potential presidential candidate if she wants it.
Some say her efforts and clear leadership as governor and ambassador to the United Nations have put her in a strong position to possibly become this nation’s first female president.